Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. [Matthew 18:21-22 ESV]
Following his answer to Peter, Jesus tells a story that illustrates his point.
The story is about a man who is forgiven a great debt by the king.
The man then refuses to forgive a man who owes him a smaller debt.
Jesus concludes the story with these words from the king:
‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’The heart of forgiveness is mercy - God's unconditional mercy that always forgives.
One who keeps an account of forgiveness does not understand the heart of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not about "seventy times seven" but really about forgiving every time.
Jesus wraps up the story with this lesson from it:
And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.I think that there is no greater spiritual bondage than that of unforgiveness.
When we refuse to forgive we imprison our soul in a dark dungeon of bitterness.
Such is the reason that Jesus tells us to forgive others from our heart even when they do not.
Lord, I forgive all that have offended me. Wash me clean of any bitterness.
... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.